When intellectual property laws were first written, the goal was to protect authors from having the content of their books stolen and to protect inventors’ inventions from being copied and sold by others undeserving of the revenue. Over the years technological advancements like photography, copy machines, and video cassette records have expanded the application (and interpretation) of those laws, but the complexities created by those inventions pale in comparison to the impact that today’s technologies have created.

New technologies like artificial intelligence have significantly changed and improved the way that people do their work, but it also raises concerns over ownership of ideas and how to protect them. The recent writers’ strike in Hollywood made this extremely apparent, as those who have created previous content expressed concern about images and text being used to train artificial intelligence systems. Those writers asked for what they refer to as the “three Cs” of consent, credit, and compensation when the technology relies on another creator’s ideas and output.

The question of fair use and exceptions concerning artificial intelligence is clearly changing the landscape of intellectual property law. The European Union has begun addressing these questions and has resolved some of them by creating exceptions that allow research and cultural heritage organizations to use previously existing content but restrict its use for commercial applications.  Similarly, Singapore introduced an exception that allows lawful access that facilitates computational analysis that specifically cannot be overridden by contracts.  Neither India nor China have generated new intellectual property laws yet, but China has suggested that it will exclude training data from any laws that infringe on intellectual property rights.

What is clear is that there will be no simple or straightforward answer to how to apply laws meant to protect creative content like music and works of fiction to the emerging technology. Content creators should not be overburdened by the need to continue licensing what they create, but it is unclear what other options are available to them. A greater understanding of what data artificial intelligence requires to train its updated versions will also be needed, as well as how that training would proceed in terms of obtaining permission from authors, and what payment would be appropriate. There are also questions about where and how laws can be applied internationally.

The benefits of today’s advanced (and advancing) technology have brought significant complexities to the practice of intellectual property. If you would like to discuss your own needs and questions, contact us today.